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flyboy2160

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I've referred to the effect of the Boeing/McDonnell Douglas merger on the culture of the Boeing company. Here's an article on it....

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/11/how-boeing-lost-its-bearings/602188/

Ron Wanttaja
This article seems to me one of the best summaries of The Change. I was at the wide body plant in Everett in the mid-late 90s when Stonecipher went on the warpath against the traditional Boeing ways, eventually resulting in MBA know-nothings in charge instead of real engineers. It never fails to amaze me that these MBA'ers foolishly think they can run a very technical, engineering-driven company just because they know some Biz school buzzwords.
I'm also staggered by the fact that these 'New Leaders' don't want to be right next to the shop floor so they can see, hear, and smell what's going on and meet the people doing the work.
 
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BJC

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.. resulting in MBA know-nothings in charge instead of real engineers. It never fails to amaze me that these MBA'ers foolishly think they can run a very technical, engineering-driven company just because they know some Biz school buzzwords.
That disease has infected most companies in the USA, destroying what made them successful. And it has not been limited to engineering-driven companies. I can tell you about customer service driven companies and low tech manufacturing companies that were destroyed by MBAs and their first cousins, the resident financial geniuses.


BJC
 

David L. Downey

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I work (35 years) in the Boeing helicopter plant in Philadelphia as materials and process engineering for the rotor blade in the shop. I had to threaten to resign if they would not leave me on the floor...all levels of management are now pretty incompetent technically in my opinion. Can you say Challenger and Columbia???
 

robertbrown

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Boeing seems to have become the model for the industry. At my employer, a manager who had come up the old way, by being a good engineer who was selected by his bosses to be groomed for management, commented about another manager whom he had worked with when they were both newly hired engineers, "She spent more time working on her career than on her job." Today, management is full of people who nominally have engineering degrees but had no desire to be engineers. They focus on meeting metrics that will get them a bonus. There are metrics for budget and schedule but not for delivering a good product. Due to their technical ignorance, they will believe people who tell them that it would cost too much to do a good job. The old style managers would listen to Production complaints that Engineering was being unreasonable and then support the Engineering position. The next thing we would hear would be Production bragging about how quickly they did the job that they had said would wreck their schedule. Boeing was the first company to have a fatal accident splashed across the headlines but their practices are universal.
 

flyboy2160

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...Today, management is full of people who nominally have engineering degrees but had no desire to be engineers...
Yes! I've also seen this a-plenty at Northrop, Boeing, Lockmart, and Raytheon. It seems as though their career goal is manglement, not engineering. As an engineer who passionately loves engineering, I hate and despise them.
 

BJC

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Yes! I've also seen this a-plenty at Northrop, Boeing, Lockmart, and Raytheon. It seems as though their career goal is manglement, not engineering. As an engineer who passionately loves engineering, I hate and despise them.
What degree would you prefer that they have?

Isn’t it really more about the individual than the formal education?


BJC
 

Hot Wings

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Isn’t it really more about the individual than the formal education?
BJC
I'd have to say yes. My uncle worked for Boeing starting in 1964 for around 25 years before taking a buyout. He has a masters in mechanical engineering from Michigan but all of his war stories, and promotions, are/were based on bean counting more than engineering.

Edit:

Probably should clarify a bit. He started out at Chrysler and moved on to Boeing for better pay*, which was his driving motivation, even though he was very much interested in all things mechanical. His '34 Ford Pu truck was his hobby.

*Bremerton Washington was a much better place to live than Michigan too.........
 
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Mad MAC

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I do find with aerospace engineers those with no interest in aviation are much more inclined to adopt a, hear no evil, see no evil approach and then be surprised when it all turns s***.

Raymer did have good paper on the program impacts of technically ignorant managers but seems to have disappeared from his website.
 

crusty old aviator

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The best way to ruin a perfectly good engineer is to promote him into management. Only one in a thousand engineers have the aptitude for management, but most companies believe that the only way to promote someone is to shove ‘em up the ladder, beyond the level of their competence, where they will fail miserably, or move on to another company. Just give ‘em higher salaries and keep ‘em doing what they love, engineers like money!
 
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BJC

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The best way to ruin a perfectly good engineer is to promote him into management. ...
Agree.

Not only is my college roommate an outstanding ChE, but he was wise enough to refuse to take a management position offered to him. He would have failed miserably at management. His engineering expertise still is valued. He retired years ago, to lock in benefits, when the company announced upcoming changes in retirement health care, but still works as a contractor several days a week (they would like him to work full time).

The corporation that I retired from realized the fallacy of promoting the best (pick any skill set) into management, and we did two things. First, we created a pay scale that appropriately compensated people. The extraordinary engineers who applied their skills and delivered extraordinary results received extraordinary compensation. Second, we fully implemented the DDI Assessment Center process https://www.ddiworld.com/global-offices/training-assessment-centers for assessing all management position candidates. That process is expensive, time consuming, and takes key trained people away from their jobs to participate in the multi-day assessment process, but the long term result on the business make it well worthwhile.


BJC
 

plncraze

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In Joe Sutter's book "747 Designer" he complained that Boeing management also gave away all their hard earned design info when they made their "partnerships" with foreign manufacturers.
 

trimtab

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Few people really wish to be engineers anymore. The kids I interview can't draw a free body diagram to save themselves, do a simple heat transfer problem, or draw out a simple op amp problem during the interview. They would be thrilled, however, to have a business card that says "engineer", as long as they can avoid the irritating realities that go along with the role, like vendor communications, solid documentation, good collaboration skills, time management, etc. I seem to have zero ability to find motivated young career candidates with these talents. I gave up.

I hire late career engineers from the trenches that know what it takes to solve the problem- the entire problem.

I know the kids around here are going to work for the Big Aero players around here in droves. I used to work for them also, and it is NEVER a surprise to hear about cost overruns, design failures, or toxic culture there after what I saw there. The engineering role has become pretty siloed and useless for what is required for smaller firm innovation.

Boeing is no different. It's what happens when B-school Bros take over. B-school is fine in moderation- it's necessary. But it never stops at "moderation". They become less innovative and therefore less profitable as technologies diffuse and competition rises, and the B-schoolers spin off core disciplines to outside or offshore groups that do have the innovation and motivation to succeed. It's the financialization of innovation.
 

Doggzilla

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The reason new engineers suck so badly is because it’s not about intelligence or motivation anymore. It’s about whoever can afford to take 6-8 years without working to complete school.

When I was in engineering school back in the early 2000s all the best students were forced to drop out and those who graduated were spoiled brats who only completed because the professors had no choice but to pass them. They can’t just fail all of the people who can afford it.

This resulted in the projects being painfully unprofessional. Everything looked like it was Frankensteined out of parts from Home Depot.

If we want good engineers then we need to properly financially incentivize it. The Chinese give free school to anyone who has good enough scores to get into engineering.

My grandmother paid her Ivy League math degree by picking vegetables. Today she would have to work the same job 24 hours a day for an entire year to afford a SEMESTER of tuition at the same school.

We cannot compete if we are price gouging and robbing students who otherwise have what it takes to be excellent engineers.

We are the only first world nation where schools say “You are going to pay me everything you and your family can afford in order for you to use your own natural skills. How much is your house worth?”.
 

Vigilant1

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In this load test, the plane failed structurally at 1.48 x its limit load, or 99% of the required 1.5x level. Because it was so close to meeting the test objective, no re-test is likely to be required, just a local beef-up. For context, also from the article:
As the test neared its climax, weighted pulleys had bent the jet’s giant carbon composite wings upward more than 28 feet from their resting position. That’s far beyond the expected maximum deflection in normal flight of about 9 feet, according to a person familiar with the details.

At the same time, the fuselage was bent downward at the extreme front and aft ends with millions of pounds of force. And the interior of the plane was pressurized beyond normal levels to about 10 pounds per square inch — not typically a requirement for this test, but something Boeing chose to do.

All this simulated the loads in a flight maneuver where a pilot would experience a force of 3.75 G, compared to the maximum of 1.3 G in normal flight.
 
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Doggzilla

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What’s the rationale behind that?

Seems unusual for a company to do something like that unless they were trying to impress someone.

And why not just say that up front instead of secrecy?

Seems odd.
 
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